Whenever a new food item is invented or discovered, be it a completely new dish or a new variety of fruit or vegetable, it needs to be named. Some people, if they’re feeling scientific, go with a variation of a Latin origin. More literal-minded folks just name it whatever’s closest to what the product is (see “meatloaf”). Others choose a name that honors a specific person, be it a nobleman or monarch, the inventor, or someone else entirely. We bet that a lot more foods fall into the last category than you might think, and we’ve rounded up 20 of them.
Some foods that were named after people are pretty darn obvious. For example, there’s no mystery about who Cherry Garcia’s name was inspired by. But for other foods it might not even cross our minds that there’s someone who inspired its name. Take beef Stroganoff, for example, the Russian dish of beef in a sour cream sauce. It was named after a real guy named Count Stroganov. Heck, even the Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich, was named after J. Graham Brown, the owner of the hotel where it was invented. And when an Oregon-based horticulturist named Seth Luelling developed a new breed of cherry in 1875, he decided to name it after his Chinese assistant, Bing.
It’s amazing how many dishes named after people have come and gone, generally never to be heard from again. Ever hear of an English sweet popular in the early 1800s called Bonaparte’s ribs? How about peach pudding a la Cleveland, invented by Delmonico’s chef Charles Ranhofer in honor of Grover Cleveland? And the next time you’re in a diner order scrambled eggs a la Columbus, a heart-stopping assemblage of eggs, ham, fried blood pudding, and beef brains named in honor of Christopher Columbus, and see how many stares you get.
While plenty of foods were named after real people, so too were drinks. Veuve-Clicquot, a popular brand of Champagne, was named for Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the widow ('veuve' in French) of François Clicquot. The Ramos gin fizz, a gin-based cocktail, was named after its inventor, New Orleans bartender Henry C. Ramos. While the origins of the margarita’s name has been disputed, it’s most likely named after actress Rita Hayworth, who got her start dancing in Tijuana nightclubs under her real name, Margarita Cansino. Coincidentally, the Shirley Temple, a combination of Sprite and grenadine, was also named after Hayworth.
So read on to learn about 20 people whose names live on through foods, even though most people may not realize it.
Alfredo’s of Rome was (and still is) an incredibly popular restaurant in Rome. In the early 20th century chef Alfredo de Lelio invented a dish for his pregnant wife, which was basically just fettucine with a whole lot of butter and Parmesan cheese added. Funny enough, the dish that bears his name today bears little resemblance to what de Lelio invented.
So who exactly was Benedict, anyway? There are two theories: One, a stockbroker named Lemuel Benedict claimed to have thought up the dish while nursing a hangover at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria in 1894. Two, Delmonico’s head chef Charles Ranhofer claimed that he invented it for the stockbroker LeGrand Benedict. Either way, Benedict had an awesome first name.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.